The Ansley Park neighborhood and the property once the site of the notorious Chattahoochee Brick Company have both been listed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “10 Places in Peril” for 2022.
“Places in Peril” is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.
Here’s a closer look at the two places in Atlanta that made the list:
First developed in 1904, Ansley Park was Atlanta’s first suburb designed specifically with the automobile in mind, featuring wide streets and parks. The historic neighborhood was named for its developer, Edwin P. Ansley, and includes some of Atlanta’s most architecturally significant residences. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this historic district is comprised of houses designed by a who’s-who of renowned architects including Neel Reid, Philip Trammell Shutze and P. Thornton Mayre.
The Georgia Trust said that although the neighborhood is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it has not been designated by the city as a Local Historic District, which would offer protections from demolition through city ordinance.
Without that protection and review, the past decade has seen many historic, architecturally significant homes demolished and replaced with insensitive infill.
Nearing a point of no return, the district risks losing its National Register designation—and the valuable incentives that come with it—if too many contributing buildings in the Ansley Park neighborhood are lost, and the city risks losing some of its finest architectural heritage.
Chattahoochee Brick Company
Located on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, the Chattahoochee Brick Company was founded in 1878 by former Atlanta mayor James W. English. The company was notorious for its extensive use of convict leasing, where hundreds of African American inmates were forced to work in deplorable conditions without regard to their safety, leading some scholars to refer to the convict leasing system as “slavery by another name.”
Many of these men were worked to death or left permanently disabled from extreme punishments. Convict leasing at the Chattahoochee Brick Company did not cease until the early 20th century. Industrial production at the site continued through the early 21st century. Today all that’s left on the site is a vacant, overgrown lot.
The Georgia Trust said the land is currently zoned for industrial use, and the brick company structures have already been lost to prior development attempts. Many people, including descendants of Chattahoochee Brick Company convicts, consider the site hallowed ground. Preservation of the site will generate healing, foster dialogue and lead to an understanding of a difficult chapter in Atlanta’s history. While the buildings and kilns are gone, the site retains significance worthy of recognition and protection.
Other sites on the list
Sites on the list include: Gay, Georgia Fairgrounds in Gay (Meriwether County); Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla (Mitchell County); Good Shepherd Episcopal School in Brunswick (Glynn County); Imperial Hotel in Thomasville (Thomas County); Red Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville (Baldwin County); Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge in Woodbury (Meriwether County); Thicket Ruins in Darien (McIntosh County); and West Broad Street School in Athens (Clarke County).
“This is the Trust’s seventeenth annual ‘Places in Peril’ list,” said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust. “To date, 95% of past ‘Places in Peril’ sites are still in existence. We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites.”
To find out more about each place on this year’s list, visit this link.